We’ve all been there. You’re dashing into the store to get a quick hostess gift for a party. Of course you are running late. And of course when you get to the checkout counter there is someone with a heaping cart in front of you in line. What do you want at that point? To get in front of that person, of course! But would you ever say, “Excuse me, sir, may I cut in front of you with my one item?”

If your answer is a resounding “no way,” do I have some good news for you. Guess what? That nice man would probably love to be a hero and let you go first. He was likely just engrossed in his phone and didn’t even see you behind him with your single item.

Here are some easy things to remember to help you get what you want:

  • Identify a need or desire. Look around as you go about your day. Is there something your boss or a family member could do to help alleviate some of your stress? Maybe your grandson has a soccer game tonight and you would like to leave the office 15 minutes early to beat traffic. Unless you work at a traveling carnival, chances are your boss is not a mind reader. She won’t know she can help you out unless you ask.
  • Be nice. To quote some wise person, you can catch more bees with sugar than with vinegar. If you want a friendly response to a request, the request should be friendly. This doesn’t mean you should just drop hints and hope they figure it out. Be assertive and state your desire firmly, but do it with a smile.
  • Expect an occasional no. Maybe that man in line at the store has had a bad day and doesn’t want to do you (or anyone) any favors. Perhaps your boss also has an evening event and needs you to stay until five to answer the phones. If you sometimes get a no, don’t take it personally. If you asked with a pleasant smile, there is nothing more you could have done.

So start today to watch for opportunities to relieve some of the stress in your life by simply asking for what you want. You’ll be glad you did.